Bill modifying the care of employees who are on sick leave

21 Jun 2018


Dorothée David

A bill designed to change certain rules relating to compensation for employees who are on sick leave was submitted to the Chamber of Deputies on 28 May 2018. The goal is essentially to maintain the employee’s employment contract in spite of sickness lasting more than 52 weeks (over a reference period of 104 weeks), when they might return to their former role within a foreseeable period.

According to the text, the new law would come into force on 1 January 2019. The main new applicable provisions would be the following:

  • Right to sickness benefits: increase of the limit of 52 weeks 

The Bill looks to increase the maximum number of weeks of illness during a reference period of 104 weeks from 52 to 78, entitling the employee to the payment of sickness benefits by the “Caisse Nationale de Santé” (CNS). The conditions for this entitlement, as well as the process for calculating the periods of incapacity for work during the reference period, would remain unchanged. The employment contract would only be automatically terminated after 78 paid weeks over a reference period of 104 weeks, and no long after 52 weeks of paid work incapacity.

  • Continuation of the salary by the employer: increase of the reference period

At the moment, the employer must continue paying the employee who is on sick leave for a period of 77 days, which is calculated over a reference period of 12 months. The Bill plans to increase this reference period to 18 months.

According to the Bill, this increase would result in a reduction in the associated employers’ costs, and transfer the associated cost to the CNS. In order to maintain the State’s contribution at the current level, and make sure that employers benefit fully from the measure, the total rate of contributions to the “Mutualité des Employeurs”, currently 1.95%, would be set at 1.85%, equivalent to a reduction in employers’ costs of somewhere in the region of 20 million Euros.

  • Gradual return to work for therapeutic reasons: new provision

The Bill stipulates that, on the basis of a medical certificate issued by the attending physician (“médecin traitant”), and in agreement with the employer, the employee could submit a request to the CNS for a gradual return to work for therapeutic reasons, as long as the return to work and the work carried out are recognised as helping to improve their health. In order to benefit from this provision, the employee should have been unable to work for at least 1 month during the 3 months leading up to the request.

According to the Bill, the gradual return to work would be granted by the decision of the CNS, after the notice of the “Contrôle Médical de la Sécurité Sociale”, and would be fully equivalent to a period of sick leave, in particular in terms of the application of labour law provisions, including the rules applicable to dismissal. Under the current system of part-time work for therapeutic reasons, governed by the regulations of the CNS, presence at the workplace is the employers’ responsibility. The measure proposed would therefore result in a transfer of employers’ costs to the CNS of somewhere in the order of 9 million Euros. Lastly, during this period of a gradual return to work, the employee would be insured against the risk of an accident.

Bill no. 7311